Preparing for the future can be a difficult, but necessary, task.

It's an assignment the Blair Community Schools Board of Education and Supt. Randy Gilson did not take lightly when deciding to explore the possible options for selling the former West School administration building.

The building had been used for the district's administrative offices since 2014. Those offices have been moved to Deerfield Primary School as part of a recent expenditure reduction plan.

West also holds memories for many Blair students who attended there. But at this point in time, according to school officials, it is not needed. It may not be needed for at least a decade.

BCS enrollment has dropped over the past 10 years. In 2008, enrollment was 2,384 students with an average class size of 183. For the 2019-20 school year, the district is expecting an enrollment of 2,190 with an average class size of 168. The loss of more than 190 students has left extra space available at Deerfield and North.

Some may argue that the district will need the building for potential growth. But Blair isn't growing at the rate of other cities in the Omaha metro area, like Gretna or Bennington.

Through his research, Gilson told the Enterprise that BCS won't outgrow its existing classroom space at Deerfield, North, South and Arbor schools for at least another 10 years.

For the last two years, BCS has faced a budget shortfall. The district cut $1.4 million from its budget through an early retirement incentive plan, attrition, eliminating contracted maintenance, overtime and some contracted education services, and closing the administration building.

By selling West School, the district will save an estimated $260,000 a year, according to Gilson. That's $2.6 million over 10 years — money that can be saved for potential improvements around the district. Proceeds from the sale could also be saved.

Selling the property also puts it back on the tax rolls for the city and county, which will also benefit the school district.

Though it is a difficult decision, selling West School is the right one for the district now.

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